Category Archives: wtf?

This season in undies…

Somehow I have accumulated a lot of links to different stories about underwear. They don’t necessarily connect in any way besides the core undie topic, so I’ve been sitting on them. Also I’m a procrastinator – nobody’s perfect, right?

Which actually brings me to the first link! StyleList has a pretty comprehensive guide to wearing shapewear in the summer and Instyle.com has handy list of bras for summer clothes (including a backless option). I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in New England it’s been hot and sticky, and the thought of wrapping any part of myself in spandex is pretty unattractive. I tend to avoid any clothing form-fitting enough to require stretchy armor in the summer. I’m only willing to suffer so much to be fabulous. But when I do wear shapewear I use a high-waisted thigh slimmer to smooth out my pear shape. Hanes makes a line of shapewear (on sale on their website!) that includes the thigh shapers as well as shaping panties. They work as well as Spanx without the hefty price tag.

Remember how we learned that big butts are trendy? Well apparently that’s not the only asset that’s “big” right now. Big breasts are in too! Given the amount of implants running around Hollywood I don’t know when big breasts were ever actually out, but apparently this “new” trend means lots more gel and push-up bras. I used to wear a gel bra (I’m pear-shaped, remember?). They’re heavy and not always terribly comfortable – which is what I’m told by my better-endowed friends is a little like actually having large breasts, so I guess the gel bra wins for authenticity.

But if you want to be trendy and the life of the party? Go with this:

The Wine Rack is a sports bra that holds 750ml of any beverage (the equivalent of a bottle of wine), using said liquid to create the illusion of larger breasts. Once you drink your boob cocktail you can use the attached straw to inflate the bra so you don’t look… deflated.

And if you happen to fill that bra with say… beer, which might make you a little gassy? Check out Subtle Butt, a disposable stick-on patch that goes inside your underwear to absorb unpleasant odors. The Subtle Butt’s inventor has a series of stick-on clothing innovations, including the Knicker Sticker, a patch designed to prevent the dreaded camel toe if you decide to forgo undies altogether. If you do want to wear underwear but still want to avoid a “frontal wedgie?” Well there’s a product for that too.

So there you have it. Everything you need to smooth, suck, enhance, hide, and drink out of your lady bits this season. Enjoy!

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What price beauty?

Keep young and beautiful,
It’s your duty to be beautiful!
Keep young and beautiful,
if you want to be loved.

So says the Annie Lennox song:

But sometimes we get a little crazy in our quest for beauty. The search for that miracle cream that will sweep away blemishes and wrinkles, or the magical hair product that will give us luster and shine, can lead us to some outlandish places.

One salon in London is offering clients a protein treatment made from – wait for it – bull semen:


Touted as “Viagra for Hair,” this 45-minute treatment ranges from £55 to £85 ($90-$138 U.S.) and uses semen from Aberdeen Angus bulls. Hari’s combines the sperm with the root of the protein-rich plant Katera. The protein-enriched potion is massaged into the client’s hair after it has been shampooed. Then the client is put under heat so the treatment penetrates the hair. The final step is the blow out, which gives the hair an awful lot of body, as well as shine.

As someone who has spent plenty of cash on different conditioners and treatments in the pursuit of frizz-free, shiny hair, I can honestly say this is a bit much for me. But it’s nothing compared to using urine as a facial treatment. Urine! On your face! It seems to me that if your body had much use for what was in that urine, your body would have kept it in the first place. But don’t worry about that, because you can skip the urine and get a facial that uses synthesized human sperm or snail slime instead.

Total Beauty has a list of ten strange beauty treatments that includes the bull semen hair treatment as well as procedures involving live fish, the feces of nightingales and crocodiles, and placenta.

Vanity is a strong force, isn’t it? We spend so much of our lives being judged on how we look that it can make us crazy and the next thing we know we’re paying hundreds of dollars to have things smeared on us that we’d otherwise avoid in the hopes that it will make us beautiful or keep us young for a little longer. I certainly have nothing against natural remedies – I’m a fervent champion of honey and its many many uses. (I use it mixed with my conditioner and occasionally with crushed aspirin tablets as a facial mask.) But there’s a difference between embracing the idea of alternative methods and leaping into any unproven (and/or gross) new thing just because it’s trendy. A few years back Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir when it was rumored she was using a facial moisturizer containing snake venom because the paralytic venom was believed to have a Botox-like effect on the face. Like a lot of these types of things, the claims were unproven and the side effects potentially dangerous. But tell women the stars are doing it (or just charge a lot of money) and we’ll line right up.

Some of these things do have a basis in science – the bull semen hair treatment is high in protein, for example. But you can get any number of protein-packed hair treatments without spending that much cash or drenching your head in bovine bodily fluids. In fact most of these trends have lower-priced and less insane counterparts. If you look at what’s supposed to make it work, it’s usually based on the ingredients and science already present in the beauty products you can get at any drug store. (Well, maybe not the live fish that eat the dead skin off your feet… but that’s another story.)

The Beauty Brains are a great resource for topics like this. The site, run by cosmetic scientists, explains the science behind beauty in terms anyone can understand and debunks a lot of the claims made by trendy beauty treatments.

It comes down to research. Before you try any new “miracle” treatment or product, do a little Googling and a little reading. It might save you some cash and some time.

Yet another dumb way to cover your assets.

Remember the Backtacular? The silly-looking bedazzled patch made to cover your ass crack in low-waited pants? Well apparently ridiculous crack-camouflage is a growth industry. I give you the Hip-T:

Image courtesy of Refinery29.com

In case you think your eyes are deceiving you, yes, that is a band of fabric made to do nothing but sit around your waist and look like you’re wearing a tank top underneath your shirt. To which I ask… why not just wear a tank top underneath your shirt? Most retailers make nice long tank tops now – I have a long waist and I own plenty that are more than long enough for me. And all of those tank tops cost less than the $14.95-19.95 that they want for the “Hip-T.” $20 for a band of useless fabric! For the price of two of these things, you could get a pair of jeans that covers your ass! (I’m sorry, Hip-T calls it “bum cleavage.” I guess that’s better than calling it a “coin slot.”)

I really just don’t understand why there’s a market for overpriced items like this. This one is especially confusing – what keeps it from riding up? Or just bunching itself up into a rumpled sloppy belt? What’s the point of paying money for a glorified ace bandage to mummify your middle? I have to agree with the folks at Refinery 29 who covered this before me: you’re better off just buying pants that cover you. Or invest in a few long tank tops for layering.

Too fat for fashion?

Are you familiar with American Apparel? The retailer boasts a stock of American-made clothes ranging from basic tee shirts to… less basic pieces. They’re a popular brand because of their basics and because of their non-sweatshop approach. But they’re also a controversial brand – and only partially because they think people want to wear metallic leggings and neon scrunchies:

I'm not kidding.

These leggings cost $46.

No, most of the brand’s press is courtesy of their creepy, sleazy CEO, Dov Charney. Charney has been accused of sexual harassment, misogyny, and general creepiness more than a few times now. (The links describe him better than I ever could.) Their porny ads don’t do much to disprove the company’s image as degrading to women.

But now it seems AA is looking to alienate a whole new demographic: the plus-sized. A well-known plus-sized model and adult star recently blogged about asking an AA employee if the company had ever considered carrying larger sizes only to be told, “That’s not our demographic.” The website carries limited items in sizes up to 2X, but their men’s pants only go up to a waist of 34″ and the plus-size women’s stock is limited to mostly basic tees and tops.

In 2009 the Los Angeles Times reported that the average American woman wears a size 14, or an XL. Which means that retailers like AA are leaving a lot of us out of their “demographic.”

AA is currently suffering the media’s slings and arrows over this – and they’re not exactly a hard target – but they’re not alone in ignoring the reality of the American shopper. A size 8 model is considered plus-sized by industry standards. Size 8! That’s a full three sizes smaller than the average woman wearing clothes every day. And I find it hard to believe that any woman walking around the mall looking for a size 8 dress would be shopping at stores geared toward plus-sized women. The fact is, the fashion industry is unrealistic about women’s bodies. And the more women change the more the industry stays the same. Despite years of controversy the models that walk the runways still hover around size 0.

Plus-sized model Leona Palmer wrote a great blog for the Huffington Post about the image misconceptions surrounding plus-sized models. It has nothing to do with the AA issue, but she makes a lot of interesting points about how the fashion industry sees women with regard to our size.

AA isn’t the only retailer that refuses to carry clothes for a diverse clientele, but they’re one of the few willing to admit it openly. And as long as people keep shopping there they can afford to say what they like – though the business model may not be working out in the long-term as their stock sank to a new low this month. Which raises the question: how long can any business survive by excluding a majority of potential consumers?

(Images are from AmericanApparel.com.)

Wash before wearing!

This one is not for the faint of heart or obsessive compulsive.

A while back the Today show performed a little shopping experiment:

The news team removed price tags and hygienic strips from panties, stained them with baby oil, and marked tags with two black dots for identification purposes.

Wouldn’t you love to be the intern assigned that job? Anyway, they then returned the panties to several retailers in the metro New York area and then went back to the store later to find that the untagged, soiled panties had been returned to the sales floor.

Gross.

They went back for a post-exposé check and found that all the stores they had busted had changed their dirty undies – or at least stopped selling them. That’s the good news. The bad news is they caught new retailers selling soiled panties and swimsuits this time around.

The full story and list of stores is at the link, but the point is always wash before you wear when you buy swimwear or lingerie no matter what the corporate office says their policy is. There’s always the chance that some lazy employee didn’t correctly process used garments.

An example from my retail experience:

I worked for a popular mall store that sells prank gift items for a year in college. During one of my first shifts I learned that one of our assistant managers had been taking returns on “personal massagers” and returning them to the sales floor. Nauseated, I asked him if he did this a lot and wound up spending the rest of that shift going through the entire product shelf looking for open packages to drop in the damaged merchandise bin. (That was not my favorite job and I should state for the record that I’m pretty sure re-selling the used items in question was not the company norm.)

I also worked for a popular clothing retailer a few years ago, however, and we had a strict policy not to re-sell any clothing that had been worn by the customer. Swimwear, intimates, winter coats, it didn’t matter. If it was used, it got sent back to corporate. (That was a much better job.)

But like I said, all it takes is one lazy employee to give you some free bacteria with your purchase. Personally I tend not to buy intimates or swimwear without a tag or hygienic strip, but it’s always a good idea to wash those items before you wear them anyway. Even if the item isn’t used, you never know if you’re getting a formaldehyde bra like Victoria’s Secret was apparently selling a few years back.

The “simple” math of fashion and attraction

Ladies, are you trying to attract a man? (Of course you are!) Do you go out to clubs every night just hoping someone will ask you dance, but instead you go and you stand there alone like you’re living inside a Smiths song? Well fret no more, for England’s Telegraph has solved your man-hunting woes once and for all!

And the answer is this: you’re not showing the right amount of skin:

Using tape recorders hidden in their handbags, the researchers took note of what female clubbers were wearing and how many times they were approached by men asking them to dance.

For the purposes of the study, each arm accounted for 10 per cent of the body, each leg for 15 per cent and the torso for 50 per cent.

Women who revealed around 40 per cent of their skin attracted twice as many men as those who covered up.

However, those who exposed any more than this also fared worse. Experts believe that showing too much flesh puts men off because it suggests they might be unfaithful.

It’s so simple! All you have to do is show exactly 40% of your body’s skin. Too little and men will think you’re a prude; too much and men will think you’re a tramp. And what’s really nice is that this super simplification of human attraction isn’t insulting or patronizing at all.

It does raise a few questions, though. For instance, does my face count? Is this like the SATs where I’ll get 200 free points just for not leaving the house in a ski mask every day? And given that the study was performed in England it seems only fair to ask what women are expected to do in the winter. Should we just suck it up and get hypothermia or expect men to ignore us if we choose to avoid frostbite? Do men find amputated limbs sexy as long as their uncovered? A truly thorough study would have addressed these things. After all, we women need this information so that we can achieve our true purpose for existing: attracting a man!

Obviously we need more information. For that, I direct you to this clip from The House Bunny. At 47 seconds in there’s a primer on “skimplifying” which I think is very helpful for just this sort of thing. Except of course for the part about revealing your torso, because that will make men think you’re going to cheat on them. So just ignore that part.

Skinny Jeans: Rape Proof? Jury says YES.

Editor’s Note: Apologies for the delay in posts. Technical difficulties kept me from updating, but we’re fully operational again!

Skinny jeans are one of the scary scary trends that appear here to stay for a while. I say “scary” because most of us aren’t built like models and thus fear the skinny jean because we believe it’s the equivalent of wearing a sign that says, “HEY WORLD! Look at my enormous ass!”

(As the owner of both a not-inconsiderable ass and two pairs of skinny jeans, I can say that this isn’t necessarily true if you choose a good fit and pair them with the right tops – but that’s another post for another time.)

But now we have an exciting new reason to fear the skinny jean, thanks to a jury in Australia who acquitted an accused rapist on the grounds that skinny jeans cannot be removed without the wearer’s assistance, and that said assistance qualifies as consent.

Did you get that? This woman could not possibly have been raped because apparently it would be impossible for a man to get her jeans off without her helping him. As if that statement isn’t ridiculous enough, the assumption also seems to be that if you take off your clothes you’re consenting to sex.

Hooray! Another reason rape is the victim’s fault. Well, she wore that short skirt… well, she got drunk… well, those jeans were so tight she must have helped him get them off…

Technically this isn’t a “fashion” article and I’m sorry for that. But I find it relevant because women are judged in so many ways by what we wear. Our clothes form perceptions about us. It’s the reason we dress differently for a job interview than we would to a barbecue. Some of that is fair. Men are also judged to a certain degree by their appearance; people use things like hygiene and fashion to make decisions about a person at a glance. But a line is crossed when it’s determined that the clothes someone chooses put that person at fault for harm that befalls them.

Let me be clear about that: sometimes it is our fault. It’s my fault if I wear 5″ heels and trip on them and fall. It’s my fault if I wear bright blue panties under white pants and people snicker at me. But it is not my fault if I get raped while wearing tight jeans just because some idiot in a courtroom decided what it would take to remove them. That’s just a new form of victim blaming and it’s ridiculous.

An Italian court upheld a rape conviction appealed on the same grounds, saying that “jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt.” So Viva Italia! At least there’s common sense somewhere.